Friday, April 15, 2016
Treating Family Like Guests
Grab a cup of coffee and let's have a chat. Why are people, myself in particular, nicer to guests in our home than the people we share it with? After hosting my daughter and her friend for a few days over two weekends, and all the mad cleaning and purging that went on before that, I have been in a relatively zen like mood since Monday. We've managed to contain the chaos and keep rooms clean (or give them a quick tidy) for the remainder of the week. Granted, there are too many stacked boxes, overflowing closets and cupboards, and a door or two that still will remain shut, but it feels more like normal people live here.
Tonight, my daughter is having another crew of girls over for a movie night. They will be cramped together in my daughter's room and the spare room to sleep, or not sleep, but they're all pretty tiny, except her friend who is 6'1"-at 14! She's over a foot taller than my daughter.
One of her friends family home was heavily damaged in a fire about a year ago. They have been dealing with insurance nightmares and incompetent contractors and still aren't back in their home so have been renting since the fire happened. I'm not sure all the details, but they have to be out of the house they are living in by April 30, and it will be another several weeks before their house is set for final inspection before moving back in. As a family of 6, it is hard to just find an affordable short term option, so they are making a temporary stay by separating out living arrangements for a short time. We will happily be the hosts of M for the interim in May, and she'll take the room R had during her stay.
Interesting though, I'm noticing a shift inside my home these past two weeks. We seem to be nicer, more thoughtful about words, and tones to each other. Is hosting guests with cordiality and wanting them to feel welcome, transferring those same behaviors on our interaction with each other? While I don't think we are awful people, I am pretty set in my ways in how I want things done, and little things that are ignored, when piled up, become triggers for me, and then I start being nitpicky and cranky. I haven't felt that way this week. It could be that dishes were put in the dishwasher without reminders, and then the dishwasher was actually run, and dishes later put away. Perhaps it is that DD#2 hasn't battled so much about getting out the door on time this week-the little more order to the house is having a good effect on her.
I've heard it takes a minimum of 21 days for new habits to form. While we still have a lot of bad habits, treating each other in the family as nice as we treat our guests in our words and actions, is a habit I want us to hold onto. I don't want to just turn it on for the day people are visiting, but part of real everyday life. Having an extra housemate for several weeks will be a test to see if we can make this new behavior, our normal habit.